Connecticut Launches revamped Clean Energy Communities program

As part of the Energize Connecticut initiative, the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund and the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) have joined forces to launch a new and improved version of the nationally recognized Clean Energy Communities program, an initiative that incentivizes Connecticut municipalities to improve energy efficiency and promote the use of renewable energy.

With the expansion of the program, communities across the state are being asked to renew their pledges to support renewable energy and energy efficiency. The addition of the Energy Efficiency Fund as a program administrator provides support and incentives for municipal energy reduction. Cities and towns will now pledge to incrementally reduce their municipal building energy consumption by 20% by 2018, and to voluntarily purchase 20% of their municipal electrical needs from clean renewable sources by 2018.

“Streamlining the efforts of CEFIA and the Energy Efficiency Fund makes it easier for communities to commit to the program and empowers them to make smart energy choices,” said Dan Esty, commissioner, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “By participating in the Clean Energy Communities program, Connecticut towns and cities have the opportunity to cut costs by supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

The following 10 communities have already signed the new Clean Energy Communities Pledge: Bridgeport, Bristol, Easton, Fairfield, Hamden, North Haven, Plainville, Stafford, Trumbull and Woodbridge.

Through participation in renewable energy and energy-saving programs offered by CEFIA and the Energy Efficiency Fund, a community can earn points towards rewards. For example, when residents or businesses in a town or city install a clean energy system, enroll in the CT Clean Energy Options program, or sign up to receive a Home Energy Solutions assessment, they earn points for their community.

For every 100 points earned for renewable initiatives, a community will earn a clean energy system equivalent to a 1 kW solar photovoltaic system. Earned systems could include a solar photovoltaic array, solar hot water system, solar trash compactor or solar-powered lights. Under the original program, 60 communities met the minimum program requirements and earned a collective total of 346 kilowatts (kW) of solar photovoltaic systems.

Similarly, points are earned when residents, businesses or municipalities participate in Energy Efficiency Fund programs such as the Home Energy Solutions, Small Business Energy Advantage or Retro Commissioning programs, all of which are energy improvement services designed to help people or businesses use energy more efficiently and save money on their monthly energy bills.

For every 100 points earned through participation in energy efficiency programs, the community will receive a “Bright Idea Grant” ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 that can be used toward a community-selected energy-saving project, such as hiring an energy auditor to assess/benchmark municipal buildings or to leverage existing funds to make energy-saving improvements to a school.

As in previous years, Clean Energy Communities program administrators will work with towns and cities to help establish a local Clean Energy Task Force and aid them in developing a plan of action to reduce their overall energy consumption and to support renewable energy.

Communities interested in renewable energy and energy efficiency that want to become a Clean Energy Community should visit ctcleanenergy.com/communities.

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